A Canadian technical diver has been left paralysed after missing a decompression stop while surfacing from the 91m-deep wreck of the Lusitania – and his fiancée is stepping up efforts to raise the money to repatriate him.
Kim Martin was part of a dive-group on a 10-day trip to Ireland in early August, and was due to get married a week after returning to Canada. His fiancée Kirstin Chadwick has remained with him at University Hospital Galway ever since he was injured, and an appeal for help to get him home has been issued on her behalf.
On 8 August an unexplained incident prevented Martin, an experienced wreck-diver, from carrying out his last decompression stop. He was treated at the surface before being airlifted to a hyperbaric chamber and then placed on life-support in hospital.
In an update in late August, appeal organiser Pat Shannon said that Martin’s “condition is improving daily and we believe he will continue to improve over time” but added that his recovery was “not a sprint – it is going to be a marathon”. The appeal has so far raised around a quarter of its $100,000 target.
Martin holds the Canadian Medal of Bravery, awarded in 1996 for rescuing another diver. The man had become separated from his dive-buddy in a submerged cave in Ontario and was believed dead, but despite being inadequately equipped Martin had entered the cave and helped to bring him back out.
The Cunard liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915 en route from New York to Liverpool, with the deaths of almost 1200 passengers and crew. The wreck lies 11 miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale, and was said to have been the last of Martin’s bucket-list of iconic wrecks he wanted to dive.